I found out my friend was getting married in February 2013 and decided that I had to go to Korea to attend her wedding in September 2013. And my planning started there. After months of planning I finally came up with an itinerary for my trip with my sister and my friend. Of course, my original itinerary was only used as a reference for the trip. We managed to see and do almost everything on it the original but things were moved around quite a bit. Below is our final itinerary (the things we actually did). I will post links as I post about this trip. Warning: this will be a very long post.
September 2, 2013 to September 16, 2013
13 Full Days in South Korea (2 additional days of traveling) = 15 Day trip to South Korea
Day -1: Leaving Home
- We left San Diego early in the morning, had a quick layover in San Francisco and flew across the Pacific Ocean.
- Meet groom at the gate (taking same flight to South Korea
Day 0: Arriving in South Korea
- 6:35pm: After 13 hours and 45 minutes in the air, plus a 17 hour time difference; we arrived at the Inchon International Airport just outside of Seoul South Korea.
- Before leaving the airport, there were a couple things to take care of. Check out my post of Seoul Basics with info on getting a cell phone, etc.
- Drive to Ilsan
- Dinner: Sundae Soup at LaFesta
Day 1: 1 Day in Seoul (Doing the Big Touristy Things)
This was the one day, I tried to pack in as much as I could with the things that I felt we should see in Seoul. I planned the day to keep us in the central area of Seoul, and tried to make sure everything was walking distance from each other. (When my friends Dad saw my itinerary, he didn’t think we would make it to everything – he was wrong). And yes, it was a LOT of walking, and a long day. Luckily day 2 was was a slow day.
- 1 Day in Seoul (full day intinerary)
- We got up bright and early to make sure we had enough time to find our way to the nearest subway station in Ilsan to get to Seoul (which is over an hour away).
- Gyeongbokgung Palace -> walk to Gwanghwamun Square -> walk to Cheonggyecheon
- Bukchon Hanok Village (is walking distance from Cheongyecheon)
- Changdeokgung Palace / Secret Garden: A Stroll Through the Secret Garden of Changdeokgung
Day 2: Wedding Photoshoot in Daejeon
Although this was a 13 day itinerary, we had to cut out several days for the reason we were in South Korea – The Wedding! which is not in Seoul but in Daejeon. The pictures came out amazing. She wore 3 different wedding dresses, 3 additional dresses, 3 traditional hanbok’s, and 1 casual couple outfit. We got to jump in take a couple shots with her as well. Wedding pictures are usually taken several months before the wedding so that they could be displayed at the wedding; which is very different from weddings here at home.
- 6:00am bus from Ilsan to Daejeon. 3 hours later, we arrived and took a taxi to studio.
- 10:00am to 4:00pm: wedding photo shoot. Had lunch at the studio
- The best part of the day was dinner! Dinner: Korean BBQ: Samgyupsal
Day 3: A Day in Daejeon
I originally thought to take the KTX back to Seoul for a day because I really couldn’t find anything to do in Daejeon when I was doing my research. But of course our family friends decided for us and kept us in Daejeon until after the wedding. They rented a big van and took us out for the day. And it ended up being an amazing excursion to see things I would never have planned. Though it rained all day.
- Beopjusa Temple in Songnisan National Park
- Daecheongho Lake (대청호) to see the third largest artificial lake in Korea and the main water source for Daejeon. Views were amazing, too bad we had stay under our umbrellas.
Day 4: Wedding in Daejeon
It’s the day of the wedding and the weather was just perfect (no more rain)! We stayed in a little apartment connected to the church where the wedding was being held; giving us plenty of time to get dressed up for the wedding. It was a simple ceremony all in Korean (of course), I managed to pick up random words and names but was definitely hard to stay focused. Immediately after, everyone gathered for tons of group pictures, followed by a small traditional Korean ceremony in another room. More about the wedding in a post later. We didn’t eat at the wedding, instead we went to Lotte Department Store after the wedding to eat at the food court, and then packed up for a drive back to Ilsan that night.
- Wedding: Greet the bride in her waiting room -> Ceremony -> Traditional Korean Ceremony (anytime during that time, you can go to the dining room to eat)
- Lotte Department Store food court
- Drive back to Ilsan (stopped at a rest stop on the way)
Day 5: Day 1 in Jeju Island
After getting in late the night before, we packed up our small suitcases for a 2 night 3 day trip to Jeju. We got dropped up at Kimpo international airport for our flight. Rented our car (you should make sure you make reservations for that), and got on the road. Yay! For my first time driving in a foreign country. We stopped by Mangjung-gul Lava Tube before arriving at our hotel. Oh, and we headed out to town (to a super market) that night.
- 12:20pm flight to Jeju via Jeju Air, arrive at 1:25pm
- Driving in Jeju: Rent car
- Mangjung-gul Lava Tube
- Jeju Arumdaum Resort – located near Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak)
- Drive to EMart
Day 6: Day 2 in Jeju Island
Our only full day on Jeju Island, and it was packed starting with the sunrise (at 4 am) and spending a majority of the day in the southern part of the island in and around Seogwipo. We booked a guest house on the west coast of Jeju thinking we would make it all the way around the island. I’d say you should stay in Seogwipo, because that is where almost everything is located unless you have more time.
- Wake up at 4am for the Sunrise in Jeju (Seungsan Ilchulbong)
- Check out of hotel
- A quick stop at the Jeju Folk Village Museum
- Lunch at a random restaurant
- Jeongbang Fall
- Mate Guest House
- Sunset at Suwolbong Peak
- Dinner: Korean BBQ: Samgyupsal
Day 7: Day 3 in Jeju Island
Last day in Jeju, we headed the O’Sulloc Tea Museum since it was located on west side of the island. It was a nice way to start the day with some good tea (and plenty of gifts). We then drove back to Seogwipo for more site seeing (basically things we decided to skip the day before). This actually worked out perfectly because the drive back to Jeju City (located in the north) was beautiful and different from the views we had been seeing of Jeju Island for the past couple of days. Before returning our car, we parked our car and walked around Jeju City and grabbed dinner. Back in Seoul, we were lucky that our friend picked us up and dropped us off at our guesthouse because it was raining (our original plan was to catch the last subway and walk).
- O’Sulloc Tea Museum
- Cheonjiyeon Falls
- Jeju City
- Fly back to Seoul
- Issue Seoul Guest House
After officially checking in at out guesthouse, we commuted back to Ilsan to change out our luggages (we left our big luggages in Ilsan and had our carry on luggages with us most of the time). This commute took away a couple hours in the day for us – kind of a bummer but after a couple long days in Jeju we took it slow. We met up with our friend in Ilsan and dragged her back to Seoul with us to go shopping at the Ehwa Women’s University Night Market and randomly found Kpop idol singer Se7en’s chicken restaurant.
- Seoul to Ilsan: Get luggage
- Ilsan: La Fiesta
- Lunch in Ilsan
- Ilsan to Seoul
- Ehwa Womens University Night Market
- Kopitiam: Singapore Toast Cafe in Seoul
- Dinner: Yeolbong Jjimdak: Se7en’s Spicy Chicken 열봉찜닭 이대점
Day 9: Myeongdong and N Seoul Tower
After the little shopping we did the night before, we were ready to hit Myeongdong – the famous shopping district mainly for cosmetics. We were so overwhelmed that we just wandered and didn’t really buy anything. From there, we walked to the cable cars station what will take us to the base of N Seoul Tower. We walked up some (not s0) fun hills to get there. From my research, I found that there are shuttle buses that will take you to the station – now I know why they have that shuttle. We spent a lot of time at N Seoul Tower wandering around, taking pictures, etc. Lucky for us, we had family friends. They picked us up and took us to Seven Springs Buffet (Urban Picnic?) for dinner. It was interesting international buffet.
Day 10: Rain! Change of plans
We originally planned to head to the Hangang (Han River) Park to go bike riding. But because of the heavy rain, we decided that bike riding might not be ideal. A friend that is currently teaching English in Korea (3 hour bus ride away from from Seoul) made his way to town to hang out with us for the weekend. We braved the rain and walked to the famous (for k-pop fans) YG Entertainment building. We didn’t see anyone famous, but it was nice to say that we’ve been there and took a couple pictures. We then got lost trying to find a specific Korean bbq restaurant to meet up with our family friends for lunch. After another amazing meal with samgyupsal (it’s kind of my favorite), we decided to go back to Myeongdong for round 2 – we had an extra pair of hands to help us carry stuff. Thank you Sebas!
Day 11: Shopping
By now, if felt as if we didn’t really do anything. Yes, it’s day 11 but there was so much on our list of things to do. After meeting up with Sebas, we headed to Gangnam – specifically Garosugil. Grabbed Lunch, and did a little bit of window shopping, made our way to check out the famous Hangang (Han River) and said our farewells to Sebas. From there, we headed to Dongdaemun for more shopping. This was interesting, because we got lost (our portable wifi device wasn’t working and we couldn’t pull directions). But when we did find out way through, we just did a lot of walking and it almost felt as though we were seeing the same things over and over again. Tired, but determined to stay out we headed to Hongdae to at least check out the night life and the Hello Kitty Cafe.
- Hongdae are to meet friend – breakfast at Dunkin Donuts
- Gangnam: Garosugil
- Lunch: LOCO Curry: 로코커리 – Garosugil
- Hangang (Han River) Park
- Dinner: Marugame Udon 丸亀製麺 마루가메 제면 – Hongdae
- Hello Kitty Cafe: Hongdae
Day 12: Yeouido Park and Noryangjin
Time flies! This is our last full day in South Korea, and this was our final chance to see what we came to see, eat what we wanted to eat, and buy what we wanted buy. After the disappointed Hangang Park in Gangnam, we headed Yeouido Hangang Park – this one was much prettier and busier. Then to Noryangjin Fish Market for some fresh seafood! Done with the site seeing, done with the food, we headed back to Myeongdong for round 3. We packed up as much as we could into our little carry on suitcases, then hauled everything along with us for our final commute to Ilsan. We were so tired after that commute, we just ordered food in for dinner.
- Yeouido Hangang Park
- Fresh Seafood at Noryangjin Fish Market 노량진수산시장
- Myeongdong: Shopping, Site Seeing, and a Snack
- Commute to Ilsan
- Dinner: Chinese Food in Korea: Jjajangmyeon 짜장면
Day 13: Time to go home
An even longer day. Our flight was at 5:50pm which meant that we pretty much had a full day left in South Korea. We walked to the local super market and picked up some candy as some extra gifts, and just got restless as we packed up our suitcases (and made sure that they were not overweight). We were going to go check out the Ilsan Lake Park, but decided not to – we were done with all of the walking. We made a quick stop on our way to the airport for a final view of South Korea and then did a little bit of duty free shopping before boarding. We had a 7 hour layover in San Francisco although tired, we met up with a friend for lunch (yes, it’s the same day), dessert, and site seeing before the final leg of our trip.
This was not a 24 hour day it was actually a 51 hour day! Thanks to the time differences. (18 hours and 50 minutes + 19 hours and 35 minutes + 2 hours and 35 minutes = 51 hours)
- Ilsan: Last minute shopping and packing
- 5:50 pm: Incheon International Airport
- 12:40pm-7:55pm: 7 hour layover in San Francisco
- 9:25pm arrive in San Diego